Morocco’s support for Southern Provinces lauded

Mrs. Laghzal Nima (right ) and Mrs. Duihi Aicha andexplaining issues at the interviewTwo leaders of legal and media groups in the Southern Provinces of Morocco, have lauded the emerging democratic freedom and development in that territory, and called on all stakeholders to be committed towards improving conditions for the Sahrawi people.

The two believe that although the emergence of freedom and development was currently at a slow pace, the trend was very appreciative, and indicative of improvement in living conditions for the Sahrawi people.

Mrs. Laghzal Nima, President of the Centre for Strategic Reflection and Advocacy for Democracy, and Duihi Aicha, President of the Sahara Media Foundation, in an interview with The Ghanaian Times after participating in the just ended 8th Pan African Congress in Accra, said they were optimistic conditions would be made better.

Morocco controls and administers a larger portion of the Sahara territory and calls these lands its Southern Provinces, while the Polisario Front which is seeking independence for the territory controls about 20–25 per cent of the territory which it calls Liberated Territories.

Since 1976, the dispute over the Sahara territory, a former Spanish colony, has led to widespread deprivation of the inhabitants, while criticisms by citizens have been met with military brutalities from either the Moroccan side or the Polisario Front.

However, the Moroccan government, about three years ago launched a new development model aimed at enhancing conditions for the inhabitants of the southern provinces, in pursuance of a general plan to grant autonomy to the provinces.

The model involves the introduction of democratic principles in the management of the territory, rule of law, human and infrastructure development, and the respect for human rights of the Sahrawi people.

Although the model, according to Mrs. Aicha, was yet to be fully implemented, its positive impact was being felt gradually.

Expressing conscious optimism, Mrs. Aicha, who is also the Vice-President for Independent Community for Human Rights in Western Sahara, called for the opportunity for collaboration between the Moroccan government and civil society groups towards finding solutions to the myriad of developmental problems in the provinces.

“These days you can freely express your views without the usual fear of being arrested,” she said, adding that the rights of separatists were equally being recognized.

For Mrs. Nima, she admits that there was still a long way to go in the promotion of human rights and socio-economic development in the provinces, but expressed optimism that with support from human rights advocacy groups, the process could be sped up by the Moroccan government for the benefit of the people.

“There is a new wave of advocacy for development and social emancipation in Morocco Sahara, and we are hoping things will continue to improve,” she noted.

She expressed their gratitude to the organizers of the Pan African Congress for allowing them to participate and to share their thoughts about the true conditions of the Sahrawi people. “Separatism has had negative effect on Africa, and prayed for total peace and freedom in the Sahara territory.

In accordance with instructions the Moroccan leader, King Mohammed VI, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC) of Morocco developed a platform for the analysis and formulation of proposals for a New Development Model for the Kingdom’s Southern Provinces (NDMSP).The project was fully in line with the Constitution adopted on July 1, 2011. It is a contribution by civil society groups to the nation-wide project of implementing advanced regionalization, and it considered by analysts to potentially contribute to the success of the autonomy plan for the provinces concerned by the UN process tabled by the Kingdom in 2007. At the heart of the model are the respect for and promotion of basic human rights in the broadest sense of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.

By Edmund Mingle.

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